The Week Ahead – November 21, 2016

This week, the Supreme Court will not hear any oral arguments but will be holding Conference on November 22. SCOTUSblog discusses some of the petitions likely under consideration.

One interesting petition the Court is expected to review is Broom v. Ohio. This capital case from the Supreme Court of Ohio addresses the case of respondent Romell Broom, who was sentenced to death upon his conviction for murder in 1984. Ohio attempted to execute Broom in 2009 by lethal injection but the procedure failed when Ohio failed to follow its established execution protocol. Broom argues three constitutional violations: that the original attempt at execution constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment, that a future execution attempt would constitute cruel and unusual punishment, and that a second execution attempt would violate Fifth 14th  Amendment protection against double jeopardy. This case was originally scheduled for Conference on October 28, and it has been relisted several times, suggesting that at least some Justices are very interested in taking the case.

A second interesting petition is White v. Pauly, a case from the 10th circuit, which examines the qualified immunity rights of New Mexico State Police officers. In 2011, the officers shot and killed Samuel Pauly in his own home while responding to a road-rage incident involving Pauly’s brother Daniel. The Court is being asked to examine whether the 10th Circuit correctly denied qualified immunity to the officers, and whether the 10th Circuit came reached its conclusion by considering the issue at too high a level of generality instead of focusing on the specific facts of the case. The petitioner police officers argue that the 10th Circuit considered the validity of the use of force from the perspective of the Pauly brothers and not from the perspective of reasonable police officers.

Finally, in Stokes v. South Carolina, the Court examines whether the petitioner’s Sixth Amendment guarantee of conflict-free representation was violated. Sammie Louis Stokes was convicted of kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder, and was sentenced to death in 1999. Stokes argues that his Sixth Amendment right to conflict-free representation was violated when Thomas Sims was appointed to represent him in 1999. Sims prosecuted Stokes in 1991 in an unrelated assault and battery case. The case was originally scheduled for the October 28 Conference and has been relisted several times.

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